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Saskatchewan's southeast corner has been the focus of worldwide attention in recent years, emerging as a global energy leader thanks to some of the world's most significant oil and gas deposits.

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In an ongoing series of stories this week called "Living the Boom", News Talk Radio is taking another look at how the Weyburn area, in the heart of the oil patch, has been coping with the challenges that come along with rapid growth and expansion.

It all started in 2008 when Weyburn's economy exploded, thanks in large part to the Bakken oil play. That massive underground oil field was discovered more than 50 years ago, but the oil available through conventional drilling dried up long ago. The creation of horizontal drilling technology opened up the potential of the field that remains. Some reports say there could be 25 to 100 billion barrels available over the long run.

While 2008 saw oil and gas drilling rights being bought up at an incredible pace and well after well being created, Mayor Debra Button explains the recession cooled things off slightly last year.

"It was a little bit slower, but it gave us a chance to catch up and refuel the tanks and get ready to go. This year has really picked up again and we're seeing strong growth."

Despite that marginal slow-down, she stresses economic activity was still far ahead of what was seen in preceding years.

Dustin Rouse is an owner of Rouse Industries, an industrial manufacturing business that is seeing another surge.

"It definitely cooled off last year but we were much busier than I think most of the world that we operate in, that being oil field construction," said Rouse.

Weyburn Chamber of Commerce CEO Jeff Richards agrees it brought a lot of attention to the area in a hurry.

"Last year wasn't as big as 2008, but 2008 was really an anomaly. It was a huge year. We had $145 oil."

Richards notes land sales are back up in 2010 and drilling numbers jumped 96 per cent over last year's tallies. He also notes Highway 39 through the city sees about 4,000 vehicles a day, the highest traffic count ever.

The hot economy has more city residents becoming entrepreneurs and others looking to set up succession plans as they look at retirement.

Of course, as business ramps up, there are significant challenges that pop up as well.

We'll be looking more at how businesses are dealing with a shortage of employees in Tuesday's installment of "Living the Boom."

Source: NewsTalk 980 CJME

 

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